1. home
  2. features
  3. A family Minded 1975 Jeep Cherokee Chief

A family Minded 1975 Jeep Cherokee Chief


John CappaPhotographer, Writer

We’ve been wheeling with Rob Jenkins of Encinitas, California, for nearly two decades. During that time, our vehicles and the kind of off-roading we did has evolved to meet the challenge and abuses. As necessity and trail failures surfaced, Rob slowly transformed a near-stock Toyota FJ40 into an extreme rockcrawling rig and proceeded to destroy it from behind the wheel over several years’ time. The FJ40 eventually became a trailer queen because there wasn’t much left of the body. When Rob’s wheeling needs made a right turn and his family grew, he decided that he wanted a mellower machine with more seating. Rather than selling his thrashed FJ-40 for almost nothing and losing all of the expensive components he already bought, he removed many of the parts from the Toyota to be transferred over to a ’75 Jeep Cherokee Chief S model. These fundamental parts included the built 383ci fuel-injected engine, transmission, T-case, rear axle, rear suspension, and a few other random bits. Some of the work was done in Rob’s garage, but he had friends at JD Fabrication and T-Bilt perform most of the metalwork. The finished product is a 4x4 that Rob can drive around town or to the trailhead if need be, plus he now has a heater, plenty of room for family, friends, and any extra gear he wants to bring along.

At A Glance
Vehicle: 1975 Jeep Cherokee Chief S
Owner: Rob Jenkins
Stomping grounds: Southern California deserts
Build time: 6 years

Engine: Ed Hale Performance 383ci small-block Chevy V-8
Transmission: Art Carr TH400
Transfer case(s): Advance Adapters Atlas II
Low range ratio: 3.8:
Crawl ratio: 46:1
Front axle/differential: FSJ Dana 44/4.88 gears, open
Rear axle/differential: Dynatrac ProRock 60/4.88 gears, spool

Front: BJ’s Off-Road 6-inch leaf springs, 1.5-inch shackles, Bilstein shocks
Rear: Custom Deaver spring-under leaf springs and mounts, 2.5-inch King shocks
Steering: Stock, BJ’s Off-Road drop pitman arm

Tires: 35x12.50R15 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain
Wheels: Aluminum 15x8 American Eagle 0589

Armor: T-Bilt custom front and rear bumpers and rocker guards
Cool stuff: Widened rear fenders, Warn 9.5ti winch, 7-inch HID lights, JD Fabrication rollcage, Beard seats, Auto Meter gauges, Art Carr gate shifter, Hi-Lift jack, fullsize spare tire mount, aluminum interior panels, bedlined floor, Edelbrock Pro-Flo EFI, JBA ceramic-coated headers, Flowmaster muffler, Optima YellowTop battery, manual reverse transmission valvebody, B&M 2,400-2,600 rpm stall converter, BJ’s Off-Road aluminum radiator, B&M transmission cooler